Using an active voice in your writing means the subject of the sentence is performing the action. This adds more impact to your writing, which is is why most writers use the active voice.
Sentences written in an active voice flow better and are easier to understand. Using an active voice the emphasis is on the subject of the sentence which is doing the action. This makes the sentence straightforward and concise. Examples are:
Sentences using a passive voice are often harder to understand. Passive voice can make a sentence awkward and vague. The emphasis changes to the receiver of the action. Examples are:
Passive sentences usually have more words than active ones, which is one reason the reader has to work harder to get at the meaning, and the sentence structure can seem unwieldy. If you have a composition that is too wordy, you may be able to change some passive sentences to active ones. Two examples are:
Need more help to distinguish between active and passive voice? Take a look at the YourDictionary Active vs. Passive Voice infographic for an easy-to-understand visual explanation.
An active voice adds impact to your writing; however, you may sometimes want to use the passive voice to lessen the impact of your sentence.
Sometimes the passive voice is used to take the author’s opinions and thoughts out of the conclusion, like “The data suggests that this disease is hereditary.”
Some people think that if a sentence has a form of the verb “to be” (examples: is, am, are, was, and were), then it is passive. While a lot of passive sentences have that kind of verb, not all sentences with that verb are passive.
Here is a quick quiz to test your knowledge of active and passive voice in sentences. The answers are after the quiz. Are these sentences active or passive?
Answers: The odd numbered questions are all active, and the even numbered ones are passive.
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